Some changes are to come for the Strathcona Regional District since one of their board members and chair Michele Babchuk will likely be confirmed as the new MLA for the North Island riding after last week’s provincial election.
Though the official results have yet to come in, preliminary counts have Babchuk taking the seat as MLA for the NDP party.
“It’s a bit up in the air with this mail-in election,” said SRD chief administrative officer David Leitch. “As I’ve read myself on Elections BC, the MLAs will not be assured of their position until the mail-in votes are counted, which is 13 days from the election on the 24th. However, having said that most of them are fairly certain that the mail-in ballots can’t unseat them. There’s some uncertainty as to when they’re going to be sworn in as MLA.”
As of Oct. 28, Babchuk had 48 per cent of the initial vote, with 101 of 101 ballot boxes reporting in. However, because of the large amount of mail-in voting, the official results are not going to be available until the final count 13 days after the election.
Babchuk is appointed to the board from Campbell River’s city council, and is not directly elected to the SRD. She also sits as the current board chair, and is on a number of committees within the SRD.
However, the timing has proven to be convenient for replacing her. The SRD board is holding their annual chair election on Nov. 4, and will be replacing their committee members in the December meeting.
“That’s pretty convenient,” Leitch said “We have to come up with a unique way to vote for chair. Our voting for chair is on the 4th, so that seems like a pretty smooth transition to another chair.”
The unique way of voting for chair is needed because of the board’s virtual meetings. They have found a way to hold a secret ballot even though they will be voting from the virtual meeting.
After Babchuk’s resignation from council and the SRD board, Mayor Andy Adams will appoint a new representative from city council.
“There is two additional folks there. The mayor would appoint one of those two,” Leitch said. “Since I’ve been here he’s appointed SRD reps by how they finished in the polls. He doesn’t have to do that, but I think historically it was the top five that he’s appointed to SRD.”
Of the two councillors not on the SRD board, Kermit Dahl and Colleen Evans, Evans had the higher share of the vote in 2018, so she will likely be the pick. Councillors Claire Moglove, Charlie Cornfield and Ron Kerr currently sit on the board, as does Mayor Andy Adams.
Babchuk had taken a leave of absence from her position on the board through the campaign. Vice chair Brad Unger had taken on her duties as chair of the board during that time. Leitch said that Babchuk plans to attend meetings until she is sworn in to the Legislature.
“I don’t even know after the 13 days what exactly happens. I’ve chatted with her, and I don’t think she knows either. Nobody’s been through this. I think she’s probably thinking somewhere between mid November and the end of November that they’re sworn in and are working. I don’t even know if she could give you a date, because it’s such a fluid situation there,” Leitch said. “I think she’s being cautious in terms of that. She doesn’t want to step down until all the dust is settled. I think she’s erring on the side of caution.”